LOS ANGELES: Three crew members of a sailboat were found dead and a fourth was missing Saturday after their yacht ran into trouble during a race off the coasts of California and Mexico, the state's second ocean racing tragedy this month.
The 37-foot Aegean was participating in the 125-mile Newport, Calif. to Ensenada, Mexico, yacht race when something happened to the vessel, Coast Guard Petty Officer Henry Dunphy said.
Other yachts near the Coronado Islands in Mexico reported seeing debris Saturday morning. Searchers in the afternoon found the bodies and debris from the Aegean, whose home port is Redondo Beach, Dunphy said.
Two of the dead were recovered by a civilian boat, while the third was found by a Coast Guard helicopter.
The Coast Guard said it still doesn't know if the yacht was in a wreck or what happened to it.
Dunphy said conditions were fine for sailing, with good visibility and moderate ocean swells of 6-to-8 feet.
Coast Guard boats and two aircraft as well as Mexican navy and civilian vessels were searching for the missing crew member.
A total of 210 boats were registered in the 65th annual yacht race, according to the Newport Ocean Sailing Association's website. It wasn't immediately clear how many actually participated and how many finished.
The association's commodore, reached by phone in Ensenada, told The Associated Press that he didn't know the members of the Aegean or how many people were aboard.
"This has never happened in the entire 65 years of the race that I'm aware of," Chuck Iverson said. "We're all shocked by this whole event."
The names of the dead were not released pending notification of next of kin.
The Coronado Islands are four small, largely uninhabited islands about 15 miles south of San Diego.
The deaths come two weeks after five sailors died in the waters off Northern California when their 38-foot yacht was hit by powerful waves, smashed into rocks and capsized during a race.
Three sailors survived the wreck and the body of another was quickly recovered. Four remained missing until one body was recovered last Thursday.
The deadly accident near the Farallon Islands, about 27 miles west of San Francisco, prompted the Coast Guard to temporarily stop races in ocean waters outside San Francisco Bay.
The Aegean is owned by Marina Sailing, a Southern California sailing club that rents the sailboat for $325 per day. A call to the club was not immediately returned Saturday night.